KOLKATA: Two Cabinet vacancies and increased pressure to improve health infrastructure forced West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to induct new faces in her Cabinet on Monday.
After a slew of horrific incidents surrounding the embarrassing health conditions in the state, including the infant deaths, Banerjee decided to appoint Chandrima Bhattacharya as the Minister of State (MoS) for Health. The Health Ministry, however, will remain with the Chief Minister. “The ministers do not do anything and look at her (Mamata Banerjee) for direction. The Health Ministry needs a full-time minister, not an MoS,” said Surjya Kanta Mishra, Leader of Opposition.
Arup Biswas was given MoS (independent charge) for Youth Services and both the new ministers were administered oaths by Governor M K Narayanan in the presence of Banerjee and some of her other Cabinet colleagues at Raj Bhawan on Monday. After Subrata Bakshi won the Kolkata South Lok Sabha constituency and resigned in December, the transport and public works portfolios have been lying vacant. Government sources said Sports Minister Madan Mitra was the frontrunner for the transport portfolio and Environment Minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar could be given additional charge of the public works department.
Sources say that Banerjee could also take food processing industries from Congress minister Abu Hena and hand it over to Ujjal Biswas, who used to earlier handle the youth services department. Hena would continue to be the Fisheries Minister.